Phenology Journal: The Longest Days of the Year

Early summer typically occurs in late April or in May across the South and in the Northwest, in June along the 40th Parallel, and in June or July east of the Rocky Mountains along the Canadian Border.)

Photo by Shulamit H. Adler

Photo by Shulamit H. Adler

Now the days are the longest of the year and the pieces of summer are fitting together like a puzzle solving itself. Mulberries and black raspberries are sweetest, and all the birds have come to eat them. Milkweed beetles look for milkweed flowers on the longest days; giant cecropia moths emerge at night.

The first monarch butterfly caterpillars eat the carrot tops. Damselflies and daddy longlegs are everywhere along the rivers when black raspberries come in. Mosquitoes, chiggers, and ticks have reached their summer strength, their presence fitting tightly with that of giant black cricket hunters .

Two out of three parsnips, angelicas, and hemlocks are going to seed. Some multiflora roses and Japanese honeysuckles are dropping petals. But Virginia creeper is flowering, filling in. Canadian thistles and nodding thistles are at their brightest just as the blackberries their set fruit. The very first trumpet vines sport bright red-orange trumpets, and the first Deptford pink and first great mullein come into bloom.

Orchard grass is brown and old, English rye grass full bloom, exotic bottle grass late bloom, brome grass very late, some timothy still tender. Against their decay, Asiatic lilies are coming in now, first the orange, then the pink. Tall primroses, foxglove, pink and yellow achillea, late daisies, purple spiderwort and speedwell shine in the garden. All across the nation’s midsection, there are hedges of white elderberry flowers, roadsides of violet crown vetch, great fields of gold and green wheat.

No matter how the pieces fall, no matter how many pieces recede and how many pieces emerge, the puzzle is always perfect. Each side goes with another. All the colors match. Nothing is ever out of place. Everything fits.

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